News & Updates

Governor DeSantis Signs Transportation Bill Impacting Seaports

Florida Seaports, Including Key West, Will Remain in Local Control

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (June 30, 2021) Florida’s seaports will remain in local control under a bill Governor Ron DeSantis has signed into law.

SB 1194, a transportation bill by Senator Ed Hooper, puts limits on the ability of local ballot initiatives to modify seaport operations. However, the nearly 200-year-old operating structure allowing local control of ports remains intact, and local government seaports like the Port of Key West, will maintain their ability to operate their own ports based on their own comprehensive plan. Furthermore, these ports will not be preempted from comprehensive master plans that went through a public hearing process.

“The pandemic has proven just how important Florida’s local seaports are to Florida’s economy. With thousands of cruise-related employees still sidelined, and cruise ships still unable to sail, it’s vital that local seaports are not further restricted in their ability to conduct business and create economic development opportunities,” said Michael Rubin, Interim President & CEO, Florida Ports Council.

An earlier version of this bill (SB 426), threatened to broadly preempt seaport regulations by removing the operating structure that’s been in place longer than Florida’s statehood. Through continued negotiations with Senator Jim Boyd, Representative Spencer Roach and others, the bill transitioned dramatically, removing much of the economic development threats to local seaports.

“We appreciate Senator Boyd’s and Representative Roach’s willingness to seek a solution that protects Florida’s seaports while also ensuring our state’s seaports remain a major economic driver,” Rubin added.


  • 15 deep water seaports.
  • Supporting 900,000 direct and indirect jobs, and
  • $117.6 billion to Florida’s economy through cargo and cruise activities.
  • Generating approximately 13 percent of Florida’s GDP, and
  • $4.2 billion in state and local taxes.


The Florida Ports Council (FPC), is a Florida nonprofit corporation that serves as the professional association for Florida’s fifteen public seaports and their management. FPC is governed by a Board of Directors comprised of the fifteen port directors with staff support located in Tallahassee. We provide leadership through a collective voice in the areas of state and federal advocacy, data and research, and marketing and communication.

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